Skyrocketing prices of cement, high interest derail housing projects, Philippines

Skyrocketing prices of cement, high interest derail housing projects, Philippines
Published: 23 October 2006

The skyrocketing prices of cement aggravated by the high cost and interest rates as well as low income of the ordinary Filipino is derailing the socializsd housing projects of the Arroyo administration.

This was disclosed by Baguio City Representative Mauricio Domogan during a public hearing conducted by the House committee on housing and urban planning chaired by Parañaque City Representative Eduardo Zialcita.

The House body agreed with Domogan’s contention that there is a need to take a second look at the government’s policies on socialized housing for the poor because it seems that it has been overtaken by events, particularly the unstoppable increase in the prices of cement, which is a major component in the construction of vital infrastructure for the benefit of the ordinary Filipino.

It was learned that the P225,000 being provided by housing agencies as long-term loan to qualified socialized housing beneficiaries in the whole country is no longer enough to construct a descent structure for the dwelling of a family.

The situation is worsened by the rather high interest rate of nine percent per annum and the low income of the family which is not sufficient to pay the monthly amortization of the huge loanable amount.

“Worst, the housing beneficiary, who relies on the borrowed amount to construct a descent shelter for his family, turns out to spend more because the amount is no longer enough to cover the expenses due to the unstoppable increase in the prices of cement and other construction materials,” Domogan said.

Domogan pointed out the government must already impose the needed price control on the prices of cement and other construction materials as he recommended to the committee to take cognizance of the review on the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7279 or as the Urban Housing Development Act, particularly with regard the mandatory relocation site and compensation for squatters, since the same is now being abused to the advantage of professional squatters in urban centers like Baguio, Pasay and Cebu.

He said ordinary owners of titled properties who spent years of their lives in earning such investment stand to lose their properties to professional squatters because of the provision on mandatory relocation and compensation which they could not afford, thus, the government is now being accused of protecting the interest of professional squatters and not the legitimate land owners in a certain area.

Zialcita agreed with Domogan’s arguments, saying that measures are now being undertaken by the House to straighten the existing laws so that ordinary citizens would be the primary beneficiaries of affordable housing projects nationwide.